Friday, August 07, 2009

"Demented And Sad, But Social"

"Well, you're stupid. I always knew you were stupid."

That's Mary Stuart Masterson's (as Watts) idea of pillow talk in the final scene of Some Kind of Wonderful. Eric Stoltz (Keith) has been running his ass off to find her (only in John Hughes movies did the characters run because they just couldn't wait another moment for romantic fulfillment) and she's crying, face wet under her two-toned pixie cut, looking like the cutest little baby dyke you've ever seen. She's been waiting for idiot Keith to figure out they belong together, waiting the entire movie, and he just couldn't catch a clue, even though he is the most scrumptious, chewable Orange Kid ever to appear in a rom com. Just looking at him standing there, mouth hanging open, getting kissing instructions from Watts (to be used later, on the always-two-named Amanda Jones) I get a bit weak in the knees.

They start to kiss, and his hands tighten their grip on her hips, and she realizes that she's not as cool as she thought she was--she can't pretend. She shoves him away, with a line of pure poetry:

"Lesson's over. You're cool."

But the pieces fall where they're supposed to, and as the credits roll and I try to put myself back together, Keith and Watts walk into the sunset arm and arm as she puts on the earrings he had bought for Amanda Jones, and he says:

"You look good wearing my future." Hell, yeah. That's what you want to hear from your high school boyfriend. Anything less would be unacceptable.

And that's precisely the point of a John Hughes movie. You may suffer your whole birthday and be humiliated by everyone in your orbit, but Jake is going to show up with a cake in the end, no matter how unlikely it may have seemed when you woke up. You may be pinkalicious at your prom with your wiseacre best friend, wearing a homemade sack and a brave face, but you'll still end the evening in the arms of the delectable Andrew McCarthy, he of the rosebud lips. You may use your own dandruff to decorate your drawings, but after a bit of eyeliner, you'll get smooched by a hunky wrestler who never noticed that your outer beauty matches your inner--until now.

Sigh. Some kind of wonderful, indeed. I am alarmed at the recent trend in which the pop culture icons of my youth are checking out, and I'm left here with my memories, my wet face, and a vacancy where my tender teenage heart, puffy as a throw pillow on a canopy bed, used to be. Where are my earrings? My birthday cake? Bueller? Bueller?

My life is a series of signposts with John Hughes stamped all over them. I endured a childhood in which I was frequently known as "Sammy Davis Baker, Jr." even to the members of my own family. I had every line of The Breakfast Club memorized, and when I worked in a law firm during college, I put up a sign in my cubicle: "Yo, Wastoid! You can't blaze up in here!" The attorneys would walk by and repeat it slowly, no comprehension. If you wanted to crack me up, all you had to do was widen your eyes and say "Shana" like Bueller's sister Jeanie (a pitch-perfect Jennifer Grey) does when an extremely high-looking Charlie Sheen asks her name, right as a demented song about Shana starts playing in the background. I spent hours agonizing over the age-old question: James Spader as Steff in Pretty in Pink: pretty/hot or pretty/creepy?

I wanted to believe in a world in which The Breakfast Club could happen. Truly, I did. I wanted to know what detention was like, not just detention but a sort of all-day reprogramming session where all the Jerichos of the high school caste system (in which I had been born an untouchable) come tumbling down around a shared joint. I wanted to be Claire, tenderly giving Bad Boy Bender her diamond earring at the end (hey, does Hughes have some sort of ear fetish, or what?) But really, I was much more of an Allison, and though I cringe to admit it, probably in no small part a Brian. Yeah, that would have been me--watching it all from a distance, not making out with anyone. And narrating the lessons learned at the end. Oh, well--it's nice to be able to identify somehow.

But Some Kind of Wonderful was it for me. Even though Keith and Watts probably didn't last until those earrings were paid off. And I guess that's the point. Sure, I eventually learned that real-life love is better and lasts longer, but I didn't know that then. The movies were my fairy tales, and every girl needs fairy tales. Who needs princes and balls and godmothers when you had John Hughes? I'd much rather kiss Andrew McCarthy or Eric Stoltz than some random prince. His movies made me believe in happy endings, and we all need that.


Caroline said...

I'm always floored by your entries, and this one takes the cake. Fifty percent stuff you ripped straight from my mind/psyche, and fifty percent stuff I would have wanted to say, if only I'd thought of it first.

One hundred percent brilliant, all of it, of course.

You need to submit this somewhere for (broader) public consumption.

Sam said...

You made my day, Caroline! :) Smooch! :)

Jen said...

Great post, Miss Sam! Yes, indeed, you must circulate this widely--it totally sums up what his movies meant to so many people! Myself included. My fave was Sixteen Candles, which I saw about 50 times. ;-)

Miss J

Myrnie said...

Beautiful as always!

Anonymous said...

Sam, have you ever thought of writing for Salon? Seriously. For real.

Somehow you take my inner musings and make magic out of them. That is a gift. And I feel selfish keeping it all to myself.


Aunt LoLo said...

What a wonderful way to sum up the chaotic high school years!!

Jennifer said...

This really is the perfect post to describe what soooo many of us thought about his movies. Those movies were my escape during my teenage years. They were what I wanted my life to be like, but wasn't. He made you believe in the happy endings. You put into words what I never could said it so much better than I ever could have. Truly great post!

Mary said...

Really wonderful, Sam!



erin said...

Pretty in Pink always made me jealous that I couldn't make my own clothes.

I used to think I was the cool creative chick, but eventually I learned that I was the clueless preppy dude that wanted to be cool and eccentric so he pursues the quirky girl instead of the cheerleader. Did that make any sense?

And I was always jealous of the way they kissed in those movies. I wish I would have had a dozen takes to redo the kisses of my teenage years. I actually bit Jeremiah once. Maybe that's why we broke up and it took him 7 years to forget what a bad kisser I was at 17...

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."


You create the perfect place for readers to stop and look around once in a while.

Love, Cheri

The Wades said...

Ditto to every other comment here.

I beg you--donate your brain to science. You are absolutely amazing! How to you manage to put those thoughts into such eloquent words??!

I would love to throw movies or characters at you and let you sum them up for me. What fun that would be.